Our Insider’s Guide: Explore Monaco with Barbara Muckermann
As Silversea’s president and chief executive officer, I rarely spend longer than one week in any one place. Travel is (usually) an essential part of my job, whether visiting one of our offices overseas or traveling aboard one of our ships.
I take great delight in quality time spent at home, in Monaco—a 2-square-kilometer geographical anomaly, nestled between the French Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, 10 kilometers or so from Italy. During these rare periods in one place, I like to experience new sides to Monaco, as if visiting for the first time. I am a huge advocate of deep and immersive travel,which is absolutely possible in a short time frame, even if one has just 12 hours in Monaco during a cruise.
Historically, Monaco has enjoyed an elegant reputation that precedes travelers’ arrivals. And while it’s true that Monte Carlo was once the preferred hangout of movie stars and while there does exist a glamorous scene if you go looking for it, the most desirable traits of the place I call home are, in my opinion, more subtle forms of beauty, from which passionate travelers will gain far greater senses of gratification and self-enrichment.
Whether you are inspired by the sight of towering mountains that extend into the distance, azure waters and scenic beaches, or iconic cityscapes that beckon the adventurous, Monaco—and the surrounding French Riviera—is sure to tick all of the boxes. I love getting out into nature to discover this beauty first-hand, on coastal strolls and mountainous hikes. This area captures the charm for which Europe is celebrated and I am reminded on a daily basis just how charming this region is.
And here’s another aspect of Monaco that I love: For such a minute state, Monaco has a cultural calendar with a truly global reach, with attractions ranging from famous sporting events to operatic performances and ballet at the Opera de Monte-Carlo, luxury events, and art exhibitions. The Monaco Grand Prix is perhaps the most iconic of all cultural attractions in Monaco. Over a long weekend each May, the streets of our principality are transformed into a Formula One race circuit and automotive enthusiasts—and occasional spectators, myself included—enjoy the chance to witness an electrifying sporting phenomenon. Silversea’s Grand Prix voyage to Monte Carlo offers guests access to bespoke events from which to view the race and indulge in F1-related enrichments.
Perhaps the most influential of reasons to spend time in Monaco is the climate. With four mild seasons, Monaco is a picture of beauty for much of the year. In the summer months, when we welcome our ships to Monte Carlo, temperatures average 26- or 27-degrees Celsius and the bright sunshine washes the French Riviera in a golden glow. There is no place quite like Monte Carlo during the summer season.
I’m pleased to share my local insight with you on how I enjoy spending time in Monaco. I promise, yoou’ll be in for an authentic and unforgettable day.
A Morning on the Move
My ideal day in Monaco would begin with a walk along the beautiful coastal path to neighboring Cap D’ail’s Plage Mala. If walking at a leisurely pace, the route takes approximately one hour and hugs the rocky coastline, passing grand villas, hidden beaches and scenic viewpoints. Call in to Le Cabanon or La Pinede for a cold drink with sweeping sea views and an elegant atmosphere—you’d be forgiven for thinking you were sipping a cocktail on the pool deck of Silver Muse! After building up an appetite, return to Monaco in a taxi just in time for lunch; ask the driver to take you to the Halle Gourmande at the Marche de la Condamine for an authentic taste of fine Mediterranean cuisine in an authentic setting.
An Afternoon of Pampering
The vibrant food hall at La Condamine typifies Mediterranean dining, insomuch as it offers a medley of flavors, from French to Italian (as well as Japanese and more). Italians themselves might envisage quaint Italian piazzas when dining on the fresh, handmade pasta from Maison des Pates. You’ll interact with the local chefs, who will be pleased to introduce you to regional delicacies. Every time I visit the food hall here, I buy a portion of barbajuans—a local delicacy that originates from Monaco and comprises ricotta and chard, packaged in a pastry parcel, among other ingredients.
Be sure to stroll around the market outside, too, for fresh, local produce. Lemons and oranges are famous in this part of the world. And then head to the Thermes Marins on the Avenue de Monte-Carlo, a luxurious health and wellness spa in the center of Monaco. Not only will you be able to see Silversea’s ship in the harbor, if indeed that’s how you arrived, but you’ll also be able to enjoy one of the best massages in Monaco. Try cryotherapy if you’re feeling brave!
An Evening of Taste
My favorite venue for dinner in Monaco is undoubtedly the Monaco Yacht Club, for its exceptional service and its beautiful views over the port. The building’s architecture, designed by Sir Norman Foster, resembles that of an elegant cruise ship, so perhaps there is a subconscious preference at play. For a lesser-known restaurant outside of town, head to La Chaumière just off of the Grande Corniche—another of my favorites. The style is provincial and the food is as traditionally French as it comes. Go for the Menu Chaumière and be amazed by the dishes with which you’re greeted. Conclude your evening by people watching at Bar Americain in Monaco’s Hotel de Paris.
If you’re staying overnight….
For our guests with a little more time to explore Monaco and the surrounding area, I’d recommend staying at the Hotel Metropole—my personal favorite in the area. The hotel is set within a secluded spot in the heart of Monte Carlo’s Golden Square, just a short stroll from the famous Monte Carlo Casino, the Metropole Shopping Center and the Cafe de Paris, as well as other must-visit institutions. The elegant lounge area looks like an art exhibition, such is its beauty.
Those with a penchant for active exploration should venture to the neighboring town of Eze, where the Nietzsche Path connects the coast with one of the French Riviera’s most picturesque hilltop settlements and offers panoramic views of this beautiful region. Like me, you’ll want to spend an afternoon getting lost in the maze-like alleyways of Eze Village, perhaps visiting the Château de la Chèvre d’or for lunch, the botanical gardens, or the Fragonard Parfumeur to sample the local scents.
Plan your visit around….
There’s no denying that the Principality of Monaco comes to life with the annual Grand Prix – an iconic sporting occasion that showcases the prestige of Monaco’s automotive tradition, while offering the chance to explore the principality at its most vibrant. In 2021, Silver Spirit will call in Monte Carlo overnight during a 22-day voyage between Rome (Civitavecchia) and Southampton. Guests will enjoy bespoke Grand Prix 2021 experiences for a uniquely luxurious occasion.
If you are venturing outside Monaco, head to Nice
I would take the opportunity to explore other parts of the French Riviera—in particular, Nice, the capital city of the Cote d’Azur. Silversea offers a shore experience that takes guests into the winding streets of the Old City on a guided stroll. As well as enjoying authentic local cuisine at lunchtime, travelers can explore Cours Saleya, a pedestrianized area within this ancient city, which houses the local flower market, inviting cafes and shops filled with locally-crafted souvenirs. I recommend buying regional lavender and handmade soaps, as well as fresh fruit and socca—a local delicacy made from chickpea flour.